Chinese New Year has come and gone, and it was a strangely low-key event. Rather than being like a western New Year celebration, CNY (or Spring Festival, as this mid-winter celebration has come to be known) is more like Christmas. There are plenty of public displays leading up to the occassion, but come the day itself, the streets are abandonded, the cities are quiet, and everyone worth their dim-sum is at home with their family.
For a truly odd little twist to things, a group of fellow travellers and I headed out on New Years Eve to Tianenmin Square to soak up some of the excitement. When we arrived, we found that the entire square had been blocked off from the public, and there were humourless PLA soldiers patrolling this big people's square, lest any people attempt to enter. In the end, a bunch of shiverring westerners was the biggest tourist attraction that the Chinese people who were there could find, and so they lined up to take their photos with us and practice their English. One short-statured Chinese guy started comparing his height with me, and it one swift motion I picked him up and held him half a head above me. Enjoying the view, he spontaneously reached down and gave me a peck on the cheek! Under the big photo of Chairman Mao! Life is good, here.
You know things are pretty boring when I'm the most interesting thing to see.